You may be cave diving in north-central Florida this weekend after all. As of today, most of the region’s popular cave systems are either open or about to open. The only exceptions are Devil’s Eye and Ear, and (possibly) Little River. And, according to Ginnie’s Facebook page, they are shooting for opening this coming Tuesday, September 26.
If you cave dive, it’s almost inevitable that one day, for any of a variety of reasons, you may be forced to leave a reel in the cave that you hadn’t intended to. It’s usually because you were not able to make a subsequent dive during which you planned to retrieve a primary or jump reel you installed on a previous dive. This could be because a team member wasn’t feeling up to it physically, or perhaps an equipment malfunction prevented you from diving. Whatever the reason, it’s important that you not simply leave the reel without telling anyone and have a plan for its removal.
Social media can be a great way to share your cave diving experiences with others. It can also be an effective tool for promoting classes, trips and other activities — even if those activities do not involve cavern or cave diving. Unfortunately, most of the cave diving photos and, especially, video we see posted on Facebook, You Tube and Instagram pretty much suck. Which is a shame because they don’t have to.
The “standard” flutter kick taught in Open Water Diver courses is one cave divers simply don’t use. Instead, they have a repertoire of propulsion techniques that allows them to choose the right technique for each situation. These techniques not only allow cave divers to move efficiently, they help divers avoid silting out the cave or damaging fragile formations. It is for this reason that every diver should learn these techniques, to help protect fragile coral and aquatic life as well, and keep the visibility pristine for others.
An article in a recent edition of DAN’s Alert Diver magazine warns of the perils of diving with an isolator valve you only think is open (link below). While your SPG may be telling you that you have phenomenal gas consumption, the reality is that you are sucking the right side of your doubles dry and may soon run out of air without warning. This story hit close to home for me, as I’ve witnessed this same situation twice…and experienced it once.
Odds are, if you have been cave diving — or just following cave diving — for any length of time, you’ve come across a video showing fellow cave diving instructor Max Kuznetsov tackling among the tightest of all cave passageways, the infamous “Fluffy Bunny Tunnel.” It’s available on Vimeo and it’s a great video to share if you want to absolutely horrify your non-cave-diving friends.
What is the best strategy for cave diving in north-central Florida on busy summer weekends? Cave explorer Win Brown may have summed it up in one word: Don’t. Seriously, if you can limit your summertime cave diving to weekdays, you’ll be happier for it. Unfortunately, that’s not an option for many people.
While filming this week’s Cave Country episode of ScubaNation, producer “Bitchin’ Mitch” Horne asked me whether it would be possible to produce an effect in which you start with a Google Earth zoom-in on a particular piece of real estate, just above an underwater cave, that have that dissolve to reveal the cave underneath.